The gig is up. A great American secret has been outed. Thanks to the radio show This American Life, we now know the ingredients that make up Coca Cola. I suppose it should come as no surprise. In an era of Wikileaks, it was only a matter of time before we found out any number of other things.
But why? Can we not leave things well enough alone? Is anything sacred? Are secrets dying?
I often wonder if my kids will even know what a secret is by the time they reach adulthood. Will there be any more of them? A secret, by its very definition, is known by more than one person. After all, if it were only known by one person, then it wouldn’t be a secret. It’d be a thought.
Yet, the further we come digitally, secrets become harder and harder to keep. All it takes is a laptop, a wireless connection and a twitter account for news to spread fast.
When I was still in my “hoodlum” phase, I often wondered what perils I’d face one day as a father. After all, I knew what kept my parents up at night. Drugs and alcohol. And I assumed they’d be my major foe too. But what I didn’t expect to accompany those age-old parental foils was the instantaneous nature by which any bit of information can be transferred from one person to countless others. How any moment, even a private one, can suddenly turn into a humiliating one.
Am I being a little dramatic? I don’t know. Why don’t you ask Tyler Clementi’s parents and see what they tell you.
So what about my kids? Will my daughters have something awful happen to them because of the Internet? Will either of them share a secret with the wrong person? Will either trust the wrong person? What about my boys? I shudder to even wonder.
But I’m convinced of one thing, and This American Life did nothing but reinforce that conviction: Nothing’s sacred anymore. Everything can be found out. Secrets are becoming extinct.
I hope my children can find away to keep them alive. Because secrets can be wonderful things. Assuming my kids are always cognizant of their surroundings and share their secrets with the right people. I hope that I’m one of them. For I promise to keep it safe.
If you want to find out the ingredients to Coke, go for it. The Washington Post listed them.
Me? I don’t really much care to know.